Indexed on: 24 Oct '08Published on: 24 Oct '08Published in: Phytopathology
ABSTRACT The route of infection and the pattern of distribution of Prunus necrotic ringspot virus (PNRSV) in apricot pollen were studied. PNRSV was detected both within and on the surface of infected pollen grains. The virus invaded pollen during its early developmental stages, being detected in pollen mother cells. It was distributed uniformly within the cytoplasm of uni- and bicellular pollen grains and infected the generative cell. In mature pollen grains, characterized by their triangular shape, the virus was located mainly at the apertures, suggesting that PNRSV distribution follows the same pattern as the cellular components required for pollen tube germination and cell wall tube synthesis. PNRSV also was localized inside pollen tubes, especially in the growth zone. In vitro experiments demonstrated that infection with PNRSV decreases the germination percentage of pollen grains by more than half and delays the growth of pollen tubes by approximately 24 h. However, although PNRSV infection affected apricot pollen grain performance during germination, the presence of the virus did not completely prevent fertilization, because the infected apricot pollen tubes, once germinated, were able to reach the apricot embryo sacs, which, in the climatic conditions of southeastern Spain, mature later than in other climates. Thus, infected pollen still could play an important role in the vertical transmission of PNRSV in apricot.